A place for everyone

Tackling Sydney's housing affordability crisis

Failing to fix affordable housing disadvantages everyone

Australia is facing a housing affordability crisis across its major cities. 

Not only does Australia’s biggest city possess some of the world’s most expensive real estate, it’s also going to need 725,000 new homes to cope with projected population growth over the next two decades.

While the relentless rise in property values has been good news for some, it’s also created a range of unintended consequences for the city as a whole. There is widening divide between older homeowners and a younger generation, which is either locked out of home ownership or pushed to the fringes of cities to seek more affordable rent, leaving them far from jobs and good transport. There is also a constrained supply of homes for those on low to middle incomes.

To work well, cities need a diverse mix of citizens and workers. We need teachers, police and nurses as much as we need lawyers, bankers and executives.

If we don’t act quickly on the problem of housing affordability, and rental affordability in particular, Sydney will face an exodus of our city shapers and key workers who can no longer afford to live near where they work.

We’ve got an opportunity to get it right

Over the next 40 years, Greater Sydney is predicted to grow from having a population of 4.8 million to around 8 million people – that’s the size of London. So an increase in density isn’t optional – it’s unavoidable.

We believe the key to opening the debate on affordable housing is not just building more high-rise units, but by addressing the ‘missing middle’ – housing options like more townhouses, terraces and manor houses, which offer more variety and flexibility for Sydney’s changing demographic.  

Our Affordable Housing Initiative provides a solution to address both the 'missing middle' and affordable rental housing through a simple, but potentially profound change to state planning regulations. 

The R2 Low Density Residential zones across NSW, demonstrating how much of Metropolitan Sydney is locked into low density development.

The Affordable Housing Initiative

We propose an amendment to the SEPP Affordable Rental Housing 2009 (AHSEPP), so that multi-dwelling housing is permissible in the R2 Zone (where such housing is generally prohibited), provided that a proportion of the dwellings are designated as affordable rental housing.

We believe this amendment would provide social and economic benefits including:  

  • modest uplift in density without compromising the character of the area
  • uplift in affordable rental housing across Sydney
  • ease in commute times by allowing key workers to live closer to jobs and services
  • economic benefit for every 30 minutes that key workers can save on their commute to work would generate $815,000 
  • an opportunity for individual landowners, small developers and investors and Community Housing Providers to harness the true value of their single lots.

Our Affordable Housing Initiative offers the city a solution which focuses on a part of the housing continuum which we feel is often overlooked - the private rental market. This is just part of the solution to find a place for everyone.


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Contact us

Clara Cutajar
Partner, PwC Australia
Tel: +61 2 8266 3497

Ross Hamilton
Partner, PwC Australia
Tel: +61 3 8603 0479

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